Buying Guide for Ski Helmets
By Steve Kopitz
As of 2012(the latest year of statistics) over 70% of skiers and snowboarders wear helmets. Over the last few years it has become the norm for almost all skiers from the beginner to expert to wear a ski helmet. Helmets not only reduce your chances of injury, they are warmer, more comfortable and stylish.
Every manufacturer that Skis.com carries makes a certified, quality, single impact helmet. Single impact means that if you have taken a hard enough crash that damages, dents or cracks the helmet then it has served its purpose by absorbing impact. Once this occurs, the helmet should no longer be used anymore. It is also recommended by the helmet manufacturers and Skis.com that you replace your helmet after about 5 years due to the fact that the protective material that ensures its integrity can break down reducing its protective capabilities.
The most important factor in a helmet is the fit. It must fit properly and comfortably to protect your brain against injury.
How to Find Your Helmet Size
A simple way of measuring your head is to use a cloth tape measure (or a string if a cloth tape measure is not available) to find the circumference of your head just above the brow line. All helmet manufacturers use centimeters as their unit of measure.
Once you have received your helmet the proper way for you to try it on is to spread the ear pieces or flaps apart. Next flip the helmet on your head with the forehead first, then seat the rest of the helmet back.
In a properly fitting helmet there should be no gaps anywhere and all of the padding from the helmet should fit flush against the head.
When the helmet is seated on your head, give it a few soft pushes from front to back. The helmet should remain snug so that when you push on it, the skin on your forehead and eyebrows move with it. Also, gently twist the helmet from side to side causing your head to move with it. If the helmet flops around, or moves without your head, the helmet is too large. If the helmet does not sit flush down on your head it is too small. Having one or the other will result in not having any protection.
Custom Fit Adjustments
Many helmets now have some sort of custom fit adjustment making it very easy for you to get that perfect, safe fit. They come in many forms such as the BOA system, air pumps or dials. These are the best option for you to have a perfect, customized fit.
There are a few different styles of helmets. Each style has their own, specific purpose.
Half Shell helmets have soft ear pads on an otherwise hard shell helmet. The soft ear pads are typically removable and the liners are usually removable and washable. These helmets are the most popular style of helmet for skiers of all abilities.
Full Shell helmets have full coverage that includes hard sides over the ears. They are typically used for racing and have screw holes for jaw guards that many racing leagues require.
Full Face helmets have a chin guard and a visor. They offer the upmost protection and are typically used for Skiercross events or big mountain competitors.
Ventilation systems are one of the best and most important options to consider when looking at a helmet. Many helmets have venting directly on the forehead or brow area that keeps air flowing over the face foam of your goggles in order to prevent your goggles from fogging up.
Adjustable Vents have some switch or toggle located on the helmet that allows you to open and close the vents to regulate your temperature.
Fixed vents are located on the helmet and are always left open to allow airflow to continuously pass through the helmet.
Some helmets come equipped with headphones already installed into the ear pads with volume and power toggles that allow you to crank out your tunes as you enjoy the mountains.
Audio Compatible helmets have different ways for you to add “drop in” kits that are sold separately from various companies. Helmets that are Audio Compatible have zippered or Velcro pockets in the ear pads.
In-Mold Shells are derived from the cycling world and use a hard plastic outer shell that is relatively thin. Inside the shell are EPS foam inners to absorb impact. This allows for less rebound during impact because it will collapse under lots of force.
Semi-Hard Shells incorporate an In-Molded Design with a fully enclosed outer shell. This style is more resistant to penetration on impact. It is combined with EPS foam inners to absorb impact.
Hard Shell helmets use thicker ABS plastic that is formed and then glued to a hard foam interior shell.
Double Shell helmets use a very tough ABS plastic outer shell making for a viable multi-sport helmet. Inside the shell is a fully developed In-Mold design.
Hybrid Shells use a combination of a hard shell and an In-Mold shell. The use of an In-mold design with added hard ABS plastics in key, high impact areas to provide comfort and safety. The use of multiple styles considers both the weight and comfort so neither is sacrificed in the construction.
Zip Mold helmets are foam injected style of helmets. Once foam is injected, it is fused to a polycarbonate shell. This makes it great for a multi sport helmet that is seamless and very lightweight.
CE: The European standard which all helmets must meet or exceed in order to be sold in the European marketplace.
ASTM: The safety standard which all helmets must meet or exceed to be sold in the United States marketplace. All helmets found in the United States will meet the ASTM standards. Some helmets will also be marked CE, meaning they meet the standards of both the ASTM and CE.
Now that you have the information on buying a helmet, check out the different styles offered on Skis.com
Remember, the benefits go beyond protection as a ski helmet will provide you with additional warmth and comfort.